Aggravated felonies can mislead to disaster

If you or a loved is not a U.S. citizen and gets in trouble, before pleading guilty to a lesser charge, make sure you consult with your immigration attorney.

Aggravated felonies are the biggest concern to non-citizens facing criminal issues, but there are many misconceptions. Defendants and defense attorneys can be confused about this.

Aggravated felonies are not limited to felonies.

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is the body of law pertaining to immigration. The INA provides a definition for aggravated felonies which include several categories that are either not aggravated or felonies in the plain meaning of the terms. See INA § 101(a)(43).

Some problematic examples include the following:

– Statutory rape is an aggravated felony. Matter of Rodriguez-Rodriguez, 22 I&N Dec. 991 (BIA 1999); Silva v. Gonzales, 455 F.3d 26 (1st Cir. 2006).

-Misdemeanor sexual abuse of a minor. Matter of Small, 23 I&N Dec. 448 (BIA 2002).

– A state law offense of conspiracy to distribute marijuana. Matter of Aruna 24 I&N Dec. 416 (BIA 2007); Julce v. Mukasey, 530 F.3d 30 (1st Cir. 2008).

-Misdemeanor “crimes of violence” which include damaging property. Some misdemeanor crimes of violence include assault, criminal mischief, breaking into a car with intent to commit theft.

All of the above are considered “aggravated felonies,” the consequences of which are deportation, mandatory detention, ineligibilty for asylum and cancellation of removal, ineligibility for certain waivers, and a permanent bar to the U.S..

This means that someone convicted of an “aggravated felony” can be deported and can never return to the U.S..

Due to the serious consequences, it is very important to consult with an immigration attorney for any criminal charge, no matter how inconsequential it may seem.

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